July 28, 2017
By Megan Golden
The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team checked several boxes off of its bucket list this offseason as several student-athletes studied abroad this past summer. One particular women’s soccer athlete, senior Paige Crowley, traveled to China with a group of students from the Mendoza College of Business.
Crowley, an IT management and economics double-major, spent three weeks abroad before interning with KPMG for the duration of the summer. The group of Notre Dame students first visited Hong Kong, where they were able to tour the city and see the Big Buddha.
“It’s all skyscrapers with a mountain backdrop and a harbor in front of it,” Crowley said. “One of my favorite facts about Hong Kong is that if every individual came down from all the skyscrapers and stood on the ground, there would not be enough land to hold all of them. That’s slightly terrifying, but it ended up being okay since nothing happened while we were there.”
Mendoza College of Business Professor Elizabeth Tuleja, who has lived in Hong Kong for a period of time, guided the students through classes in the morning and visits to local businesses and landmarks in the afternoon.
One of Crowley’s highlights was the group’s stay in Shanghai. They visited the jockey club, which from the outside appeared to be strictly a place of gambling. Upon visiting, Crowley learned that the jockey club also owns prime real estate — including a horse track, a soccer field and a field hockey field — and works to bring the community together inside the stadium.
“Shanghai was massive. It was a giant city, and it was a lot bigger than I had anticipated,” Crowley said. “We were in one area because we were staying out of a university instead of a hotel. We took transportation and went down to the Shanghai Tower, which is the tallest tower that man can be in. It’s very much a bustling city.”
Tuleja, who is beginning a Fulbright Scholarship to China, taught a class focused on intercultural communications. The material, Crowley said, is graduate-level content, which most students do not have the opportunity to learn unless they attend graduate school.
“(Tuleja) taught us to keep an open mind,” Crowley said. “You’re never going to know everything about someone. You’re not going to know everything about their culture. You have to be a little more cautious and read the situation, but always keep an open mind. People may surprise you; they may be something different than what you’re expecting, and that’s okay.”
Crowley grew up in the San Francisco Bay area in a household filled with business and IT experience. Her father, Michael, has worked in business in the sports industry, while her mother, Kathy, was an electrical engineer who ended up working in IT.
A 5-foot-8 defender on the soccer team, Crowley said she gained valuable insight from her time spent overseas. Her blonde hair, she said, may have been the key to some inspiration.
“In a lot of different countries, effort goes a long way,” she said. “I’m not the greatest Chinese speaker in the world. I think I learned about five words while we were over there. The girl I hung out with a lot was almost fluent, so it worked out okay. I would say hello or goodbye or something in Chinese, and I don’t know if it’s because I have blonde hair, but it shocked people, and they were so willing to talk to me.
“Effort went a long way, and that’s something that I want to bring back (to the United States). People start talking to you, and (usually) you’re kind of like, ‘I don’t know what you’re trying to say,’ and you move on. They’re making the effort to reach out to you, so you want to reciprocate that.”
Crowley and the women’s soccer team report to campus in August, when they will begin their quest for a national title. That effort, and that openness, Crowley said, can be transferred to her everyday life back home as well as on the soccer field.
“It grounded me a little more,” she said. “Coming from the San Francisco Bay area, it’s like a melting pot of different cultures. Everyone comes out here for tech jobs and opportunities. (In San Francisco), I think we think we know a lot more than we probably do. We know what people are trying to show us.
“I think it’s grounding. You’re not going to know everything about someone. You’re not going to know everything about your opponent on the soccer field. You have to keep an open mind, let it come to you, and come up with a plan of attack back at them, in this case on the soccer field.”
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.